A purchase decision depends on many influences. However, every customer passes through similar stations on his customer journey – and these can be optimized. Read 4 tips on how to use Inbound Marketing to turn every moment of truth into a positive customer experience.
The "Moment of Truth" or MOT is any customer contact where a company can be on its best behaviour, says Jan Carlzon, inventor of the concept and former CEO of Scandinavian Airlines Systems. Whether it's in advertising, Content Marketing or hearsay – every moment a (potential) customer gets an impression of a company, brand, product or service counts. The goal: to create the most positive customer experience possible and to guide the customer through the Customer Journey, the decision making process. A customer passes these 4 basic phases:
- Awareness: A need, i. e. advertising or another stimulus, causes the customer to become aware of your product.
- Consideration: The customer dives more into the product and ponders alternatives...
- Decision: ...and decides for or against purchasing your product.
- Advocacy: A satisfied customer ideally turns into an advocate and regular customer.
Scattered along the path of the Customer Journey, the all-decisive Moments of Truth are now waiting for the customer. They are special signposts that make or break whether a customer reaches the point of purchase decision or turns to the competition. Here we meet an old acquaintance: Inbound Marketing. When it comes to optimizing contact points, modern marketing methods such as Inbound and Account-based Marketing including their non-advertising added-value content, put MOTs on the right track. But first of all, we clarify which MOTs are decisive today. After all, a lot has happened since Carlzon's first concept in the 80s.
On the lookout for the traditional Moments of Truth
Not every Moment of Truth is equally decisive for the purchase decision. But every MOT corresponds to a specific information need on the customer's side, which can be accompanied with relevant content. The following 3 MOTs along the Customer Journey are established in the traditional model:
Awareness: First Moment of Truth
Your product or service is already known to a customer, e. g. through the blog articles on your website or the customer's Facebook feed. Now, however, there is the possibility to experience the product in the store and to form a personal impression within seconds in the First Moment of Truth – your customer is right in the middle of the Awareness Phase and is facing an essential fork in the road: Will he turn around or continue the journey to Consideration?
Consideration & Decision: Second Moment of Truth
The customer is convinced. When testing the product or seeing a demonstration of it, he is thinking: Can it really deliver on its promise? The customer looks more into your website and finds interesting case studies or application examples that eliminate every doubt. Apropos: This MOT is clearly shifting with the rise of online purchases: the consideration and purchase decision often takes place only after the customer holds the Amazon package in her hands.
Advocacy: Ultimate Moment of Truth
The customer has decided in favour of your product and completed the purchase. On the path of the Customer Journey, there is one last MOT to look forward to: Feedback. Were the needs met? Is your product recommendable? In the best case, the customer will reveal this to the real and virtual world and share the content you produce, specifically with your regular customers.
Which moments take place at which time on the Customer Journey depends strongly on the industry and type of the specific company. In addition, different target groups perceive different points more critically. Identifying the unique critical points is the main challenge for every company. What they all have in common, however, is the increasing importance of digital marketing and the customer trend to research services online and purchase them afterwards.
Buying is no longer what it used to be: the Zero Moment of Truth
The Zero Moment of Truth, or "ZMOT" for short, represents the immediate point in time between the incentive to buy and the decision to buy. The fact that the purchase behaviour of customers is subject to constant change is best observed by the search engine Google, which defined the ZMOT for brands and marketers in 2011.
"Which plant fertilizer works on palm trees" or "Which brand of wall paint is suitable for painting over woodchip wallpaper?“ – with one simple online search, urgent questions are answered instantly. With the mobile phone in hand, the user starts the decision making process almost simultaneously with the moment a questions and or need first arises. The higher up in the SEO-ranking, the better your chances of being discovered. Content Marketing goes hand in hand with SEO: Content that strategically uses relevant keywords and keeps them up-to-date with regular publications guarantees a better ranking in the race for first place on Google. By knowing the important keywords and urgent questions of your customers, you make the life of your users easier at the decisive moment and secure a significant competitive advantage at the same time. There are more contact points through online searches than ever before: By the time you have read this text, around 7.5 million Google searches are carried out. And each one of them is a new opportunity to get in touch with interested customers.
Where is the connection to Inbound Marketing?
For companies, it is crucial to align their strategies with industry relevant MOTs and a holistic customer experience. Although traditional MOTs include mass communication, the key to successful MOTs is a personalized strategy. Inbound Marketing methods are used to create content that is purposeful and relevant to your target group. Your audience is being addressed personally and receives to questions and concerns that are close to their hearts. A business traveller who spends a week in Vienna for several times a year might search for: "Apartment Vienna near centre leisure activities". The list she will receive, will consist of huge amounts of ads, articles and advertising. Her first click, however, will be on the hotel that meets the needs of her target group directly in the Google Preview, e. g. in the article "Professionally in Vienna: How to get the most out of your free time". This content piece would be her starting point to look deeper into the provided content on the website – until she would be arriving at the page for online booking in the end.
How can you deal with the changing decision making of your customers in a mobile-first society? Our tips, based on the suggestions by Jim Lecinski, former Vice President for Customer Solutions at Google:
Identify key trends
Do you know which phrases your target group is googling at the moment? Important trends are visible in Google searches long before they are picked up by the marketing industry. Identify trends at those times (MOTs) when they are most valuable to your audience using the Google Trends Tool.
Be present at critical moments
Your brand can only offer added value when it is found. Find out, in which Google searches and categories you appear – and how often your competitors do. If you know exactly how much traffic your site is getting, you can use the laws of generating more traffic to attract more targeted visitors to your site. Online presence is a critical point, last but not least for social media channels. In our series on social media, you can learn how to find your way through the jungle of platforms and tailor your content to your target groups.
Content is King
Your target group has questions, do you have the answers? Trend research equips you with valuable knowledge to create relevant and appealing content that makes your customers' purchase decisions easier. Content should not only be king on your blog, you should also tailor content to your target group on your social media platforms.
Analyze and understand
The customer left the decisive Moments of Truths behind him, he has arrived at the end of the Customer Journey – what comes next? The analysis should reflect which specific content pieces led the customer through the phases Awareness, Consideration and Decision. An understanding of your customer's decision making process is the perfect starting point to foster long-term customer relationships.
To summarize, brands that make use of MOTs and the ZMOT have a great competitive advantage. With individually different customer journeys, it is difficult to generalise a solution that fits every enterprise. However, every company has the responsibility to take on the challenge of identifying the unique needs of the target group.
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